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Showing now at the movies: the Fed

March 29, 2009|Jeannine Aversa | Aversa writes for the Associated Press.

WASHINGTON — Sandwiched between the soft drink and popcorn ads, you may soon see the Federal Reserve on the silver screen.

The Fed wants to help you find the nearest exit from foreclosure scams that are increasingly preying on homeowners as the recession worsens.

Starting April 10, the Fed will run ads in movie houses across seven states -- Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio -- that have been hard hit by home foreclosures.

Scam artists have been charging people for help that is free from nonprofit groups working with the government, Fed officials say.

"Don't be taken advantage of," the Fed ad tells viewers. "It shouldn't hurt to get help."

The 30-second ads direct people to the Fed's website -- federalreserve.gov -- to get tips for avoiding foreclosure scams. "It's information you can trust from the Federal Reserve," the ad says.

It's the first time the Fed has turned to movie theaters to get its message out. The ads will run for seven days in 28 theaters in 14 cities.

On the website, the Fed offers some advice to homeowners struggling to keep up with mortgage payments and are in need:

* Work only with a counselor approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

* Don't agree to work with a counselor who collects a fee before providing any services.

* Be wary of "guarantees." A reputable counselor will not guarantee to stop the foreclosure process, no matter the circumstances.

* Understand any paperwork that you sign. Don't be pressured to do so if you haven't read it.

* If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The information campaign will cost the Fed all of $9,000 for production and for placement in movie theaters. Fed officials hope the ads will boost awareness and prompt more people to visit its website for tips on avoiding foreclosure scams.

But you won't get any close-ups of Fed chief Ben Bernanke or rare peeks inside the Fed's stately marbled building -- one of Washington's most mysterious institutions -- in the ads.

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